CRESTVIEW One of the city's best-kept secrets could become a bustling public resource now that the Crestview Kiwanis Club has taken on the McMahon Environmental Center as a community service project.


CRESTVIEW One of the city's best-kept secrets could become a bustling public resource now that the Crestview Kiwanis Club has taken on the McMahon Environmental Center as a community service project.



The City Council has unanimously blessed the club's plan to hold a forum to solicit community input on improvements for the center.



Help from CH2M Hill



Jayne Swift of city water contractor CH2M Hill, a natural history education advocate, prepared a site map showing suggested improvements.



The plan, presented to the council on Monday, includes demolishing the tower and forester's cottage and building a larger museum combined with classrooms on the site.



It suggests building a children's playground in the fenced-in enclosure and an outdoor stage or amphitheater on the site of the current museum.



Swift and Kiwanis representative Jim Lundy said the recommendations are only discussion starters. They will have a public forum to accept residents' input before developing a final plan.



"This is just an idea," Swift said. "Nothing is set in stone."



Preserving history



City Councilmen Mickey Rytman and Shannon Hayes spoke in favor of retaining at least the observation enclosure from the top of the fire tower as part of the city's history.



"Over the years I've seen places like our train station just disappear," Rytman said. "I hate to see things we can never see or build again get destroyed."



A contractor has offered to dismantle the tower and forester's cabin at no cost to the city in exchange for salvage rights to the debris, Lundy said.



While they would coordinate planning and fund-raising for environmental center improvements, "Kiwanis is not assuming any responsibility for construction or destruction," Lundy said.



 



The almost 3-acre McMahon Environmental Center on Mapoles Street and Butler Circle includes a wooded park containing more than 100 samples of native trees.



The city Parks and Recreation department runs the center, a frequent field trip destination for school groups and library children's programs.



Retired forester John McMahon, for whom the center is named, created the resource on land the state donated to the city. He often acts as a docent, guiding tours of the park and its small natural history and regional heritage museum.



Facilities include a covered outdoor classroom, a picnic pavilion and two fish ponds. The center's landmark retired fire tower and forester's cabin at its base are reminders of the site's heritage.



A fenced-in enclosure occasionally houses derelict city vehicles and includes a shed holding parade barricades.



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